Raw cold-pressed honey

Sugar and Sweeteners

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Sugar, the Warburg Hypostesis, cell respiration and oxygen

Sugar is a complete no-no on the Budwig diet.  See the Warburg hypothesis about the  lack of correct respiration which allowed cancer cells to fuel themselves by effectively fermenting sugar in the absence of sufficient oxygen.  This is called glycolysis or non-oxidative breakdown of glucose.  In 1924 the Nobel  laureate, Otto Heinrich Warburg, proposed that sugar allows cancer cells and cause tumours to grow,  This was the foundation for the recommendation  for cancer patients to avoid sugar.

Natural cold-extracted raw honey
Natural cold-extracted raw honey


Honey was sweetener of choice on the Budwig diet.  Honey is more than just sweetness, it has positive antimicrobial properties and other health benefits,  facts probably appreciated by Johanna Budwig.  Manuka is the best known variety of honey for its ability to fight bacteria and other microbes but new research suggests all honeys are powerful and some even better than manuka. The important thing is that the honey must be cold-extracted, unprocessed and raw taken from bees foraging on flowers not from honey gathered from bees fed on sugar syrup.

Honey can be clear or set, both are equally good.  Flax Farm stocks raw honey suitable for the Budwig Diet.

Alternatives to Honey

When Johanna Budwig created the the diet honey was the only sweetener that was easily available. There are a few products that have reached the UK in recent years which are possible additions to the diet and suitable for patients with cancer.

Clear stevia aqueous extract
Clear stevia aqueous extract

Stevia Liquid Extract

Pure natural, aqueous extract of stevia is probably the best new sweetener. It is simply the sweet element of the South American plant, Stevia rebaudiana, in water. It is very concentrated powerful sweetness, 150 times sweeter than table sugar, so only a few drops are needed. It has no effect on blood sugar which makes it ideal for diabetics.  Stevia is calorie-free and carb-free.   Stevia has been used in South America for millennia and is believed a safe food suitable for the Budwig diet.  Stevia liquid is available from Flax Farm along with other essential foods for the Budwig diet including cold-pressed flaxseed oil.

Stevia rebaudiana in flower
Stevia rebaudiana in flower

Sugar-alcohol sweeteners

Glucitol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol and lactitol are less common and maltitol causes almost the same blood-sugar spike as a potato.   These foods also cause gas, blaoting and diarrhoea,  which is likely to be detrimental to gut flora .  They are best avoided.


Is a sugar alcohol usually extracted from birch trees. It isn’t prohibited by the Budwig diet and in small amounts if probably ok. Xylitol  has a distinct disruptive effect on gut-flora and is laxative. It is probably the healthiest sugar alcohol but when consumed in larger amounts for the reasons above it is probably best to limit it to occasional use only.

Lo han

Is a sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is extracted from the monk fruit. It has been used for centuries in China and seems safe. Probably ok for occasional use. More research needs doing if you are considering this for the Budwig diet.  The main downside of lo han is it tends to be rather expensive.

Yacon syrup

Yacon syrup comes from a the yacón plant tuber that looks like a sweet potato. The sweet juice is extracted and concentrated.  The sweetness comes mainly from fructooligosaccharides and fructose.  It also contains some sucrose but much less than table sugar. It also has effectively fewer calories.   It can cause digestive distress, bloating and disruption to gut flora. Together with that and the relatively high levels of fructose and sucrose it is not a suitable sweetener for the Budwig diet.

Other sweeteners that are really sugar and not allowed on the Budwig Diet

Some of the most common are fruit sugar, agave syrup, agave nectar molasses, high fructose corn syrup, malt, palm sugar, raw sugar, coconut sugar, glucose.  These are all sugar with a different name and bad for health.  They are not to be used on the Budwig diet.  For more sweeteners to exclude check out the list on  www.womenshealthmag.com/food/different-names-for-sugar 

Artificial Sweeteners

Chemical sweeteners such as saccharine and aspartame are not permitted on the Budwig diet. For more reasons to avoid these artificial chemical sweeteners like the plague. See Dr Mercola’s site for more information why you must not consume these chemical creations.